CREAMY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

This recipe, made in the pressure cooker (or Instant-Pot) brings chicken thighs to the table in less than 30 minutes, but they will give that impression of comfort food that your Mom (or Grandma) cooked for you slowly and lovingly for hours. Since the skin suffers some abuse in the pressure cooker environment, I go through the extra step of crisping up the skin under the broiler, just a few minutes of added work, for a big pay-off. Six chicken thighs fit nicely in our pressure cooker and provide dinner with benefits (aka leftovers).

CREAMY CHICKEN THIGHS WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
(inspired by Rasa Malaysia)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
salt and pepper to taste
2 T grape seed oil
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 onion, diced (optional)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, minced
Herbes de Provence to taste

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pressure cooker, heat until almost smoking, add the chicken, skin side down, and saute until golden. Flip the pieces and saute on the other side for a couple of minutes. If necessary, do it in two batches so that the chicken will fry, not steam. Reserve the chicken in a platter, covered with aluminum foil.
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Discard the extra fat accumulated, keeping about one tablespoon in the pan. Sautee celery and onion (if using), seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. When they get translucent and fragrant, add the chicken stock, whipping cream, sun-dried tomatoes, herbes de Provence, and a little more salt. Whisk, making sure the stuff glued to the bottom of the pan gets incorporated in the liquid.

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Add the chicken pieces back into the pan, trying to leave the skin poking over the liquid. Close the pressure cooker and bring to maximal pressure. Cook for 25 minutes, release pressure, open the pan.  Remove the chicken and run the pieces under the broiler. If you like, reduce the sauce by simmering on the top of the stove as the chicken broils.  Serve the chicken with the sauce around it.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:
If you want to make the sauce smoother, simply transfer to a food processor and get all those bits of sun-dried tomato incorporated in it. I would probably do that if serving it for guests, but for a weeknight dinner, rustic is perfect. I love the texture of chicken thighs cooked under pressure, and by crisping up the skin I get the best of both worlds.
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A little rice, my favorite quick broccoli dish, and dinner is taken care of!
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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread
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NINE YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew

SWIRLS AND WHIRLS

This post could also be entitled Having fun with Wilton… Probably the most useful icing tip you can stick in your piping bag, Wilton 1M shines with many types of icings and doughs. In this post, I share three adventures using choux-pastry, French meringue, and a butter cookie. They all get a stylish look thanks to the open-star tip. Easy to use, even a recovering cake-o-phobe can do it.

SAMANTAS
(from Show de Receitas)

250 mL whole milk
1 Tbs sugar
100g butter
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
granulated sugar for coating
powdered sugar for sprinkling after baking (optional)

Place in a saucepan the milk, sugar, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil, and add the entire cup of flour. Mix with a heavy wooden spoon over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the dough forms a sticky residue around the bottom and sides of the pan.

Transfer the hot dough to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for a few minutes to release some of the heat. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip, and pipe small circles on parchment paper.

Bake in a 400F oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a rack and enjoy with additional sprinkling of powered sugar, if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe for Samantas, click here

These are delicious and believe it or not, unknown to this native Brazilian, until my virtual friend Angela from the Brazilian blog Ora, Pitangas shared a picture of Samantas she bought on a trip and raved about them. Of course, being 6 thousand miles away meant that the only way to satisfy my curiosity would be rolling up my sleeves and baking a batch… Totally worth it! As all things made with choux-pastry, they tend to lose their crispness quickly, so if you make them the day before, place them in a 350 F oven for a few minutes to bring them back into top shape.

BOYSENBERRY MERINGUE COOKIES
(inspired by several sources)

4 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons boysenberry jam (or other jam of your choice)
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Heat the cream to simmering, and pour it over the chocolate, all at once. Allow to stand for 3 minutes. Use a wire whisk to stir the cream and chocolate together until smooth and well-combined. Set aside to cool. Whip it on high-speed with an electric mixer until fluffy right before using.

Make the meringues. Heat the oven to 170 degrees F. Whip the egg whites on high-speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, while continuing to whip. Mixture should be very stiff and glossy.

Place the jam in a small bowl, and fold about a cup of the meringue in. Transfer the mixture back into the meringue, and fold gently to combine. Place mixture in a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip, and pipe rosettes on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 2 hours or until the meringues are very dry and peel off the paper easily.

Pipe or spread about a tablespoon of the whipped ganache over the back sides of half the meringues. Sandwich another meringue rosette on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe for Boysenberry Meringues, click here

These cookies would stand proudly by themselves, but sticking two together with the chocolate ganache took them to a higher level. I used my favorite brand of jam, (from Maury Island Farm). The jam gave a nice color and slight sharpness to the cookie. The only issue with meringue is how quickly it absorbs moisture, so they are best served right away. Or, if you must store them, use an air-tight container.

VIENNESE WHIRLS
(from Mary Berry)

250g very soft unsalted butter   
50g confectioner’s sugar
225g all-purpose flour
25g cornstarch
seedless raspberry jam for filling

For the biscuits, heat the oven to 400 F. Line 3 baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Using a 2-inch round cutter as a guide, draw 8 circles on each sheet of paper, spaced well apart. Turn the paper over so the pencil marks are underneath.

Measure the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and beat well, until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip.  Pipe 24 swirled rounds inside the circles on the baking sheets.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 13—15 minutes, until a pale golden-brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and harden. Match cookies according to size, in case there is some variability after piping/baking.  Fill them with raspberry jam.  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe for Viennese Whirls, click here

These cookies were a pure delight to eat, but I must admit they were a pain to pipe. I suspect my dough was slightly too hard, so next time I’ll add a little less flour. My hand was threatening to cramp up, and no, it’s NOT the Drama Queen speaking. Well, maybe the DQ surfaced a bit, but only momentarily. She is gone now.  At any rate, don’t let this issue discourage you, these are melt-in-your-mouth little gems, reminded us of shortbread cookies. Note added after publishing: make sure to see Helen Fletcher’s comment, she solves the problem for piping these babies! And she knows, she is a professional pastry baker… I am lucky to have her as a reader of my blog.

So, there you have it, three recipes in a single post, all involving my favorite icing tip. I hope I convinced you to bring Wilton into your home… 

ONE YEAR AGO: The Tabatiere

TWO YEARS AGO: Curry Turmeric Sourdough

THREE YEARs AGO: Brigadeiros de Morango

FOUR YEARS AGO: Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

FIVE YEARS AGO: Artichoke-Saffron Souffle

SIX YEARS AGO: Cinnamon-Wreath

SEVEN YEARS AGO:
  Yeastspotting 11.11.11

EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 Oven-baked Risotto

NINE YEARS AGO:
  Potato-Roquefort Cakes with Ripe Pears

 

PUMPKIN SOURDOUGH

I admit, I caved into the recent trend of shaping bread as a pumpkin. Thanksgiving is right at the corner, and this bread would be perfect to celebrate the occasion. You can use any bread dough you like, but to keep with the seasonal atmosphere, some canned pumpkin puree found its way into my recipe. I kept hydration a bit lower, as I did not want the bread to expand too much. It was a wild experiment (got it? wild yeast involved), and I am a bit surprised that it worked so well on my first attempt. Beginner’s luck?

PUMPKIN SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by photos everywhere)

400 g bread flour
100 g spelt flour
300 g water
120 g canned pumpkin puree
120 g active sourdough starter
12 g  fine sea salt 

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, no need to make it very smooth at this point. Just form a shaggy mixture and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Ferment the dough for 4 hours at room temperature, folding a few times during this period. I did 4 cycles of folding, at about 45 min intervals, allowing the dough to rest untouched after the 4th folding cycle. Shape it as a ball, place in a well-floured banetton and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Next day, place pieces of kitchen twine as shown in the composed picture over parchment paper. Grease the kitchen twine slightly so it won’t glue to the bread. Place the bread on top, seam side down, and cover it slightly with flour, rubbing it with your hands to form a nice coating. Tie the twine around it to form the wedges of a pumpkin. If desired, add a pattern with a very sharp razor blade, held in your fingers (be careful).

Immediately place the shaped bread in a Dutch oven, cover it, and place into a 450 F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden brown. Let it cool completely, remove the twine, and slice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This bread was a complete impulse bake. I need to tell you a little secret, though. I was contacted by our newspaper in town to be part of their Monday feature called “Our Neighbors.”  They feature someone in town that does something cool, or special, or fun. And for some reason they thought that a scientist who works with bacteria at KSU during the day and blogs on the side, could be featured. They stopped at home to take pictures and I quickly assembled this dough, having refreshed my Star starter in the morning. You know, the ultra-active starter I got from my friend Elaine. They took a ton of pictures of me kneading the dough, I was hoping they would include one in the article, but they picked a different one, in which my pumpkin bread dough is already covered for its final fermentation.

If you like to read the article, click here. If the link is blocked where you live, click page 1 and page 2 for PDF versions.

But back to bread. This was so easy to shape, main thing is to make sure the strings stay put where you want them as you move the bread to the Dutch oven. Since I use a cold pot, it’s easier to go back inside and tweak the twine (I was really hoping to use this phrase). The pumpkin flavor is not evident, you won’t say it’s pumpkin, but it gives the sourdough a softer texture (crumb included) and a sweeter taste, a lot of the sourdough character will be toned down. We really liked it.

I hope you give this bread a try. Evidently, no need to use a sourdough, any formula will work, just adapt the fermentation time and go for it. You can also use roasted pumpkin made from scratch. Honestly, I don’t know how that will compare with canned pumpkin in terms of hydration. I prefer to use canned because it’s pretty reproducible, but I am sure the bread tolerates a certain range of hydration values without too many issues. Worth experimenting with. It’s just a little flour, water, and yeast, after all…

ONE YEAR AGO: First Monday Favorite

TWO YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2015

FOUR YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

SIX YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp

DEVIL WEARS CHOCOLATE (AND A COOKBOOK REVIEW)

Back in 2006-2007 I used to follow a food blog called Cafe Fernando. The absolute majority of food bloggers are female, so I’ve always been fascinated by men who food blog. And you cannot get more fascinating than Cenk Sönmezsoy, from far away, exotic Istanbul. He is a fantastic baker, very talented, and comes across like a super nice human being. For one reason or another, I lost track of his blog. I think in those days I did not subscribe to anything, just had some sites bookmarked and whenever the craving for novelty hit me, I would browse a few blogs. Fast forward to 2017, amazon.com hit me with a suggestion for a cookbook. You know, “based on your purchases, we think you might also like this.”  That’s how the cookbook The Artful Baker jumped into my virtual basket. Only after I bought it, it hit me. Cenk was THAT Cenk, the blogger from my past, who – much to my surprise – is still food blogging today, 12 years later! I share with you today a recipe from his cookbook, in fact it is the cake he chose for the cover. A complete dream for the chocolate lover!

DEVIL WEARS CHOCOLATE

This recipe is a re-make of one Cenk’s recipes, in which he coupled chocolate cake with a Biscoff filling. You know, Biscoff, that spread that makes angels sing and have naughty thoughts. Cenk decided he could improve on it, because the devil should in fact wear chocolate head to toe. Who am I to disagree? It makes perfect sense. So, instead of Biscoff, or fancy pralines, he coupled chocolate ganache with… water!  Yes, you read it right. He makes a water-chocolate-ganache, because it allows the full flavor of chocolate to hit you in full force, no distractions. I tell you one thing: it works.

Recipe Overview

His chocolate cake uses the creaming method, butter and sugar together as the basis for the cake. Then, eggs are beaten into it. To that, a suspension of cocoa powder in boiling water and yogurt is added alternating with flour and leavening agents.

For the ganache, chocolate, sugar, cocoa powder and salt, are first combined with boiling water, only after fully dissolved, some butter and heavy cream are added to the mixture, that then sits in the fridge for one hour for perfect spreading consistency.

Why am I not giving you the full recipe? Cenk was a total sweetheart when I got in touch with him and asked for some advice on the decoration of the cake. I told him I wanted to blog about it, and he said he would be honored if I did so. But, I just don’t feel it’s right to share the very recipe that is on the cover of his book, so I prefer to publish a brief overview. As a teaser, I will show you how the chocolate shards are done, such a cool method! No tempering of chocolate involved, which makes it doable by common mortals. In fact, tempered chocolate will not work for this design, it does not break the proper way for the effect.

You simply spread the right amount of melted chocolate on parchment paper (dimensions recommended by Cenk to get the right thickness), place another parchment on top, smooth it well, and roll it. Cool it completely in the fridge. Unroll, which breaks in the chocolate into nice, curved shards. And that is all it takes.

It is basically the coolest thing you can do on a Sunday afternoon. I made a double batch to make sure I would have enough big shards to decorate my cake. They can be saved in the fridge or even frozen, and any leftovers used to decorate cupcakes, enjoy over ice cream, or sneak a bite or two as Netflix entertains you through the evening.

The filling/frosting is shiny and creamy at first, once you frost the cake it gets a more dull appearance. It is the most chocolate-y frosting you will ever taste. Basically, this is a cake for choco-holics at peace with their affliction.  Cenk offers an alternative idea for decorating the cake, in case making the shards seems like too much work. Just make a double batch of the water-ganache and frost the cake with a thicker layer, making designs with the back of a spoon.  Simple and elegant. Now, for some confession. I messed up the top of the cake a little bit. First I was going to do the same that Cenk did for his in the book: adding little bits of shards all over the surface. But, as I started to do so, I just did not care for the way it looked. So I stopped, removed the choc bits, and went with a wavy fork design.  The only problem is that I had already compromised the surface a little bit by inserting the pieces of chocolate and the fork design did not go as smoothly as it should have. I considered a little hairdryer action, but I already had the shards placed around the cake. No major harm done, but another little lesson learned. I go through them often (sigh).

The cake was served for our department colleagues, in a farewell party for two wonderful staff members.

And now, allow me to show you why you need The Artful Baker in your bookshelf… I will walk you through the different chapters.

Cookies… Not sure how to break this for you. I’ve never had a cookbook in which every single recipe of a chapter appeals to me. This was it. Every. Single. One. He opens the chapter with Cenk’s House Cookies, a recipe that was born out of a kitchen problem with his food processor. You know a baker is great when boo-boos turn into culinary masterpieces.  Then he proceeds to temp you with all sorts of amazing delicacies:  Vanilla Bean Meltaways (his version of the Turkish un kurabiyesi), Pistachio and Matcha Sables, Lime and Ginger Cookies (with good advice on zesting citrus), Hazelnut and Caramel Cookies (OMG), Macarons… macarons so exotic they left me dreaming. The one that made my heart stop used kaymak in the filling. Many years ago, 1986 to be precise, I happened to travel to Yugoslavia and one morning, in the island of Krk, I had kaymak for the first time. Unforgettable. One of those perfect gastronomic moments. Of course, it is impossible to find in the US, and he suggests mascarpone as an alternative. Still, it’s nice to see he designed a macaron with kaymak in mind. Cocoa and Chestnut Macarons, Sour Cherry and White Chocolate Macarons, Chocolate and Lavender Macarons… I am in love.

Brownies… Have you heard of leblebi? Probably not. Intriguing ingredient. He uses that in a brownie that is, simply put, drool-inducing. But nothing beats his “Brownie Wears Lace.”  I so wish I could try it, but my artistic skills are definitely not up to that challenge, just looking at the design my hand starts to shake. I will share a picture of this beauty since it’s in his blog anyway.

Have you ever seen a more beautiful brownie in your life? I swear, I cannot stop staring and dreaming…

Cakes, Muffins, Cheesecakes and Meringues… There are 21 recipes in this chapter. Honestly, I have a hard time deciding which could be my top five to share. The three madeleines call my name loudly: Sakura, Lemon Verbena, and Lavender. Three flavors I adore.  The cake featured in this post comes from this chapter too, Devil Wears Chocolate. Matcha and Pistachio No-Bake Cheesecake and Monte Bianco would probably be the other favorites. Just an amazing collection of goodies. In this chapter he also writes about his first day in San Francisco. I will never forget my first day in California, when I landed also in San Francisco and then went to my first home away from home, in Mountain View. Life changing experiences.

Tarts, Galettes, Pie, Quiche, Cobbler & Crumble…  Blanche is a fruit tart that opens the chapter. It is a masterpiece. It seems almost doable, because his instructions are so detailed, but I am not sure I’m ready to face it quite yet. My experience with tarts and pies is a bit limited.  Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart (seems like every nice cookbook has one, but his version as usual, takes it a step higher). Peel-to-Stem Apple Pie has a very interesting ingredient that totally changes the game in terms of texture. Just like the Devil Wears Chocolate Cake, this pie maximizes the apple component. I need to give it a try. Lemon Meringue Tarts and Fig, Thyme & Blue Cheese Galette make my personal favorite list too.

Breads and Pastries… Another total winner of a chapter. Have you heard of Simis? They are Turkish breads shaped as a ring and encrusted with sesame seeds. I need them in my life.  Whole-Wheat and Kefir Pullman Loaf, Croissants & Pain au Chocolat, Profiteroles, Mocha Eclairs (so so cute).

Ice Creams, Frozen Yogurts, and Sorbets… I have to quote his opening paragraph: Ice cream is to me what water is to you. Your body weight is 60 percent water; mine is probably 60 percent ice cream. About 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water; more than 70 percent of my tongue’s surface is regularly covered with ice cream.  When you take those words in account, you know you can trust his taste in the subject. He starts with Chocolate, moves to Three-Bean-Vanilla, and gets to Salted Caramel Ice Cream right away. But the Roasted Strawberry captured my imagination. Strawberry is a very tricky fruit to use in desserts in general, because it has such a big water content. His trick to roast the fruit makes sure the ice cream will deliver intense flavor.  Blackberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt makes this list also.

Confections and Drinks…  He shares recipes for caramels (like Passion Fruit Caramels!), Fernando Rocher (a labor of love, recipe he carefully crafted using home-made sour cherry liqueur),  Elderflower Syrup, Hot Chocolate, are all very tempting to try.

Jams and Jellies… Well, I have to admit I am not crazy for jams to try and make my own. But I know lots of cooks have a fascination for this type of endeavor. Those will be mesmerized by the chapter, that starts with detailed instruction to make your own apple pectin, apparently an ingredient that will take your jam-making experience to very high levels. But there are two recipes in the chapter I could happily try: Dulce de Leche and Cajeta

Base Recipes… Pretty much everything you need to pull any of the recipes in the book and also to design your own. It includes ingredients like Vanilla Wafer Crumbs, Cocoa Wafer Crumbs, Cinnamon and Ginger Wafer Crumbs, for those times in which you are ready to go the extra mile. Recipes for several kinds of pastry cream, and doughs (pies, tarts, pate a choux).

So, what’s so special about the book? Definitely the author behind it, and his commitment to making his recipes work in your own kitchen, no matter your baking comfort level. He skips no details, he carries no hidden cards up his sleeves. As I try to improve my baking skills and attempt more elaborate desserts, I notice how often quite reputable cookbooks have omissions (and even mistakes!) that can be fatal to the outcome. I won’t name names, I realize writing a flawless cookbook is a daunting task. But The Artful Baker is just that: flawless. And the talent (and humbleness) of Cenk is evident all the way through the book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is wonderful that he’s getting all the praise and recognition he deserves.

Cenk, thank you for a fantastic cookbook! I am so glad I reconnected with your blog…

ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, and Fennel

TWO YEARS AGO: The Best, the Very Best Hummus

THREE YEARS AGO: Cheddar Cheese Crackers

FOUR YEARS AGO: A New Take on Cauliflower Puree

FIVE YEARS AGO:
 In My (NEW!) Kitchen

SIX YEARS AGO:
 
The Lab Move and New Beginnings

SEVEN YEARS AGO:
 Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 Carrot and Leek Soup

NINE YEARS AGO:
 Chicken Parmigiana 101

 

 

LAMB MEATBALLS, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

One of the things I don’t like to do in the kitchen is peeling hazelnuts. The other is frying stuff. Not for concerns with fat intake, which don’t bother me even slightly, but for the mess it makes on the stove and the lingering smell in the kitchen. It probably explains why I ended up getting an air-fryer. Wait, who am I trying to fool? I have a weak spot for cooking gadgets…  Anyway, whenever I find a method that circumvents the need for frying stuff, I am on it. Most recipes for meatballs insist you must brown them on a frying pan. Not this one. And the result is a super tender lamb meatball, that seems to soak the flavor of the tomato sauce better than traditional versions. Plus, the fact that it cooks unattended in the crock pot is a bonus. After forming the meatballs, your work is pretty much done.

SLOW-COOKER LAMB MEATBALLS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound ground lamb
1/3 cup almond flour
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
grated zest or 1/2 large lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
fresh parsley leaves, to taste (about 1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 + 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Gently combine the lamb, almond flour, beaten egg and yolk, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.

​Put the tomatoes and red pepper flakes into slow cooker. Break up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Season it with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Form the meat mixture into meatballs, make them slightly bigger than golf-ball size. Drop them gently in the tomato sauce.

Cook on LOW for 4 hours, serve with any side dish you like. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe works better with larger meatballs, so they don’t turn into mush through the long cooking. Two make a very nice portion for dinner, so by cooking a full batch we can have either a repeat dinner later in the week, or… my favorite thing: leftovers for lunch!

You can use breadcrumbs instead of almond flour if you prefer. I tend to go with almond flour because it’s lower in carbs and I like the slightly nutty taste it gives to the meatballs. On my second time making this recipe, I added Sriracha to the ground lamb mixture. If you like some extra heat, give it a try.  I bet gojuchang sauce could be a winner too.

But, before I leave you….

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

(October 2009)

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Elaine’s Sourdough Boule

TWO YEARS AGO: Zucchini, Lemon and Walnut Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Paleo Energy Bars

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dressing

FIVE YEARS AGO: Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers

SIX YEARS AGO:  Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Panmarino

NINE YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken

ON A HALLOWEEN ROLL

It’s the season of pumpkin and warm spices, of sweaters and scarves. This pumpkin cake roll would shine in any Halloween party, perhaps with a side of appropriately decorated macarons

PUMPKIN ROLL WITH HONEY CREAM CHEESE FILLING

Full recipe is available at Bluprint.

My modifications:

I used 1.5 teaspoons of a Speculoos spice mix (awesome stuff!) in place of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

I omitted the nuts on the topping, and just added colorful sprinkles.

To print the recipe, visit Bluprint.

 

Comments: This recipe was brilliantly demonstrated by Abby Dodge in her Craftsy class called “Beyond Grandma’s Cake Roll: One Pan, Six New Cakes.”  I loved it, and want to make every single concoction she shared, including pretty cool “wrapped cakes.”  Clever idea with very adorable results.  I know I sound like a broken record, but I am always happy with Craftsy baking classes, every single one has superb, often unexpected gems of wisdom.  In this particular case, Abby’s method to roll, unroll, and fill the cake is outstanding, I feel totally confident I can pull it (or maybe I should say roll it) without fear from now on. Of course, I shall regret these very words in the near future (sigh). Baking has this amazing way to throw you some curve balls.

I used speculoos spice mix, something I impulse-bought a while ago and cannot live without, the smell is amazing, it’s just that perfect combination of spices found in my very favorite cookie in the known universe. Yes, I know I could make my own mix, but there’s something sexy about that bottle, ready and waiting for me.

You can roll the cake in two different ways, from the long end you will end up with more slices and less roll. Perfect if you need to feed a crowd. But, if you are going for the most harmonious look when sliced, roll from the short end. Smaller cake, more roll.

The filling, a honey-cream cheese mixture, is absolutely delicious, goes perfectly well with the flavor of the cake. The icing is a white chocolate ganache, but you could serve the cake just with a light coating of powdered sugar, for a more austere look (and considerably less calories). It’s your kitchen, it’s your call… Roll the way you see fit (somebody stop me now).

Pumpkin Macarons

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Zucchini, Lemon & Walnut Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Paleo Energy Bars

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dressing

FIVE YEARS AGO: Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers

SIX YEARS AGO:  Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Panmarino

NINE YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken

 

TURKEY BURGER, JAPANESE-STYLE

If you are a food blogger, you know how it goes. Even a great recipe is made once, perhaps twice, then left behind, living exclusively as a blog post that you read and say to yourself “I must make that again, it was so good!”  But then, some recipes somehow materialize as regular appearances. Usually they hit a magical trilogy: simple to prepare, great flavor, and all the people you cook for happen to love it too. From my reasonably recent blogging past, two dishes hit this jackpot and show up all the time: Eggplant Parmigiana (version from Jeff Mauro), and Turkey Portobello Burgers. The eggplant turned into a once-per-week deal, actually, and I have simplified the preparation even more. I should edit that post to reflect my changes. As to the turkey burgers I can probably make them with one hand tied behind my back. Today I share with you a new version that incorporates Japanese ingredients.  The ticket is a mixture of shiitake mushrooms and red miso. If you are new to miso, maybe you should start with the milder, white version, but if you are a seasoned miso-eater (apologies for lousy pun), go big and go red.


JAPANESE-STYLE TURKEY BURGER
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon red miso
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushroom caps
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sansho pepper (or pepper of your choice)
1/4 tsp salt
fresh cilantro leaves to taste

Place the mushrooms, miso, olive oil, sansho pepper, salt and cilantro leaves in a food processor and process until it all forms a paste.

To prepare the burgers, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together; divide the mixture into 4 equal parts, forming a burger patty with each fourth of the mixture. Place in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes (or longer, but then cover lightly with plastic wrap.

Grill to your liking, about 5 minutes per side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have a thing for grill marks. In my mind, without them, grilled food won’t taste good. It is obvious I eat with my eyes first. For that reason, I am always adding a touch of honey or maple syrup to all my marinades, and often add some in a turkey burger mixture. In this recipe, miso does the job nicely, look at the beauty of those grill marks!

The other interesting bit of this recipe is that, contrary to ground beef, you don’t need to use a light hand forming the patties. The type of muscle fiber and fat content of turkey meat makes it behave in a totally different way. In fact, if you massage it well, and get the meat to be more fully compacted, the texture will be better. This tip was mentioned in America’s Test Kitchen during a show on turkey meatballs, and in a great book called The Japanese Grill (I told you I am in a Japanese-obsessive mood, didn’t I?). I proved it to myself with these burgers – massaged the living bejesus out of the meat. It ended up with perfect texture.

We rarely have bread with our burgers, and in fact, according to The Japanese Grill cookbook, a turkey burger must be served only with a little sauce, as if it’s a steak. Bread is considered a big no-no. Of course, if they see I added Velveeta on top of mine, they would prevent my entry into the country. I really want to go some day, so let that be our dirty secret…

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